Best Simple Cabbage Soup | Nutrition Stripped
Eat Well Jan. 9. 2018

The Best Cabbage Soup

Jan. 9. 2018
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

A make-ahead, refreshing, yet hearty vegetable-dense soup using cabbage and simple ingredients packed with flavor.

Cabbage soup and I go way back — my mother used to make a variation of this soup during the winter months using chunks of carrots, rich chicken broth and served with a dollop of sour cream and dill. I was deeply inspired by my mother’s recipe for cabbage soup and made a couple tweaks that I personally enjoy, including extra caramelized onions, more garlic, and a different mix of seasonings including ground cumin and some heat from red pepper flakes.

For most of us, cabbage goes under the radar when it comes to its culinary use and health benefits. In the 80’s cabbage soup was a weight-loss trend because it’s lower in calories, but that’s not why I think it deserves some extra love and attention. Cabbage might look like lettuce, but it’s actually part of the same cruciferous vegetable family as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower (1). These vegetables contain antioxidants that may help in the reduction of inflammation (2) and polyphenols that help protect the body against damage caused by free radicals.

Cabbage is also rich in vitamin B6 and folate, which support several of our body’s vital systems with cell growth and development, it has vitamin C which boosts immunity, and it’s rich in fiber which we know is great for our digestion, keeping our blood sugars stable, and keeps us feeling fuller longer. Talk about a hero of an ingredient!

Soups are some of my favorite dishes to make on batch cooking day and I encourage you to do the same — it makes your week a breeze when it comes to having healthy home-cooked meals ready to eat. Soups are also great in that they reward you for your patience, they have a slow-building of fragrant flavors and blend of simple, whole-food ingredients cooked down to be easy for your body to digest and put to good use.



Cabbage is a great source of fiber, which is important to eat each day since it keeps is to our digestive system moving along, blood sugars balanced, aids in a healthy microbiome, and helps our body absorb nutrients.


Cabbage contains antioxidants, polyphenols, that help reduce inflammation in the body and protect the body against free radical damage. It’s also a great source of vitamin C and plays a huge part in our immune system, plays a vital role in wound healing and collagen production, and it may have a role in preventing certain cancers.

Another interesting fact about cabbage is that it contains glucosinolates which can be converted into isothiocyanate (ITC) compounds which have been shown to prevent certain types of cancers including bladder, breast, colon, and prostate cancer. (4)

Optimizer Option:

You can make this soup with protein-rich chicken broth or vegetable broth. Another option to boost protein is to serve alongside your favorites or add chicken to the soup, beans, organic tofu, whatever fits your lifestyle.

The Recipe

Serves 6



2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
4 cups vegetable or organic chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, adjust to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper, adjust to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


Step 1.

In a medium-large Dutch oven (or a large pot with a lid), heat oil over medium heat, until shimmering.

Step 2

Add diced onion and a large pinch of kosher salt and cook until translucent. About 8 minutes — stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

Step 3

Add sliced cabbage, celery and all remaining seasonings and recipe ingredients. Stir to mix well and cover with a lid for 40 minutes on low heat.

Step 4

Cook the cabbage soup until the cabbage is tender, about 40 minutes. Serve in a bowl with fresh parsley, dill, fresh black pepper, ghee, or a drizzle of olive oil.


  1. Effect of polyphenols extracts from Brassica vegetables on erythrocyte membranes (in vitro study). (2012, September 23).
  2. Tilg, H. (2015, November 09). Cruciferous vegetables: prototypic anti-inflammatory food components.
  3. Ambrosone CB, Tang L. Cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer prevention: role of nutrigenetics. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa). 2009 Apr;2(4):298-300. 2009.
  4. Kusznierewicz, B, Bartoszek A., Wolska, L et al. Partial characterization of white cabbages (Brassica oleracea var. capitata f. alba) from different regions by glucosinolates, bioactive compounds, total antioxidant activities, and proteins. LWT Food Science and Technology 2008, 41, 1-9. 2008.

What do you think?

Does this cabbage soup give you all the feels? Have you tried this recipe at home? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. Don’t forget to share your creation on Instagram if and when you make it, tagging @NutritionStripped and #NutritionStripped.

xx McKel


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